LOFTY GOAL: Jiu jitsu specialist Sabbath Smrecnik will target back-to-back gold medals at the Pan Pacific Championships.
LOFTY GOAL: Jiu jitsu specialist Sabbath Smrecnik will target back-to-back gold medals at the Pan Pacific Championships. Rob Williams

Black belt cleans up with 19 gold medals before champs

WHETHER taking an opponent down or entering the guard position, Brookwater Jiu Jitsu exponent Sabbath Smrecnik is confident he can finish the fight.

"In competition I always prefer to get the take-down," the 15-year-old said.

"But as I'm progressing, I'm feeling more confident anywhere and I'm not too worried about where the fight goes."

The Ipswich City Junior Sportsperson of the Year Award nominee had a stellar year and he continues to move forward in leaps and bounds.

The all-conquering warrior won 19 gold and two silver medals at various competitions, reaching the podium in every event he entered.

In the crowning moment of his fledgling career, he was elated to claim a gold medal at the International Pan Pacific Championships in October in 2018.

Next month, the St Augustine's College student, who thrives on the combative nature of martial arts, will try to repeat the feat when he again contests the Pan Pacific Championships in Melbourne.

Smrecnik will enter the 15-year-old 64kg class.

But with more quality athletes trying their hand at the sport than ever before, he is not expecting his title defence to be so straight forward.

"It will be harder than last year," he said.

"More people are starting to compete.

"As I get older it is getting more competitive and the standard is getting higher.

"My opponents are getting a lot better. They are developing physically and becoming more skilful.

"It will be a challenge but it should be fun. I'm looking forward to it."

In the lead-up Smrecnik will ramp-up his training in search of an advantage under the watchful eye of coach Tyrone Coppedge and his assistant Jayjay Te-huia at the Infinity Martial Arts gym at Springfield.

His schoolmates are currently enjoying a holiday but there is no rest for the aspiring professional as he pushes himself harder for longer to ensure he arrives at the competition in optimal condition and is ready to rumble.

Smrecnik converted from swimming to jiu jitsu at the age of seven. He instantly took to the sport and has not looked back.

"I truly enjoyed it," he said.

"Now, I've been doing it for so long. Two years ago I decided to start focusing more on it and now that I'm better at it I'm enjoying it even more."

He currently holds a green and black belt, which is the highest possible junior belt.

At 16, juniors move into the senior ranks and he will target his black belt.

The emerging fighter is sponsored by Braus Fightwear and a member of their team. Braus is a company with a social conscience. It works to help underprivileged kids and he believes in their ethical approach.

Smrecnik absolutely loves Jiu Jitsu and has been channelling his enthusiasm into coaching and acting as a role model at Infinty.

He finds it rewarding mentoring his younger, less-experienced squad-mates and is always on hand to help them out at any competitions.

He is endowed with knowledge beyond his years and is well-respected by his peers and adult teammates, who he often teaches correct technique and provides instruction as to how they could improve.

In the future, he hopes to progress as far as he can possibly can.

"I just want to keep getting better and If I get an opportunity to compete at a high level I'll take it."

The Junior Sportsperson of the Year Award winner will be announced at a ceremony at the North Ipswich reserve on October 25.